Throughout the social studies elective this year, I have learned many things that will certainly impact upon my teaching in future placements and career. However, for my portfolio reflection, I have decided to specifically focus upon ‘Wolfgang’s Story’ as when I watched this video I felt completely sucked into the learning, along with the rest of the children in the classroom. I believe this piece highlights the importance of using engaging and exciting teaching techniques within primary school in order to produce imaginative and thoughtful pieces of work.
The video is based upon the teachings of Graham Hicks, a Primary 6 teacher at Eastfield Primary School in Middlesex. His history lessons are particularly unique as Graham transports his pupils back in time through becoming the role of a fictional character, Wolfgang Drenler. In this particular topic, he uses the fictional character within the historical context of World War Two, illustrating a German standpoint. As a student teacher this struck me as World War Two is a very common topic taught in primary schools across the United Kingdom. However, teaching it from the point of view of a German soldier would question and challenge the ideas and beliefs of the children in his class.
Graham uses the power of artefacts by putting on a long, black coat to resemble becoming the fictional character. As soon as the coat is placed on, the story is resumed and the children are instantly gripped to the learning. He also engages the children throughout by using different artefacts and objects each week to help build up the story. This is clear in the video as Wolfgang is sent german bread from his lover Clara, while he is away fighting in Ukraine. Therefore by passing the bread around the classroom, the children were able to draw on all their senses as to what it must have felt like to be Wolfgang Drenler.
After each lesson, Wolfgang leaves the children on a cliffhanger, building up their interest and excitement in the learning with the children able to ask questions to Wolfgang before resuming the story the following week. Graham also shows the importance of cross-curricular learning as the children after each lesson, write a letter in response to the letter Wolfgang received from his lover, Clara. From this point of view, the children feel like they are part of the learning as they take on the role of Wolfgang.
Overall, I believe that this video has taught me that for teaching and learning in history to be effective, it must revolve around stimulating activities that engage the children, such as artefacts, drama and storytelling.